Fire departments launch computer communications

By City News Service

Computer communications in dispatch centers for San Diego and some suburban fire departments will be connected Wednesday in an attempt to improve response times on emergency calls.

The communications link will be between the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and Heartland Fire, which dispatches for fire agencies in El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, Spring Valley, National City, Coronado and some rural areas.

The link of computer-aided dispatch systems means San Diego dispatchers will be able to automatically send the closest available fire crews to an emergency, even if they belong to an agency served by Heartland, according to Maurice Luque of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Conversely, Heartland can access San Diego firefighters, if necessary, Luque said.

Mutual aid agreements between neighboring fire departments have been in existence for years, but without connected CAD systems, dispatchers had to make separate telephone calls to their counterparts to request help.

The SDFRD has similar arrangements with fire departments in Chula Vista and Poway, Luque said. There are also such agreements in the North County among the Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach fire departments, he said.